Robin Barber, Product Owner (Built Environment) at Arcus Global
With people imagining what life will be like following the current pandemic, you often see them quoted as expecting working life to ‘go back to normal’. For me, that won’t work. Personally, I would much rather not go back to where we have been, but embrace the changes which we’ve seen in our culture and working practises. We need to look at how we can build on it for the better.
At Arcus Global, we’ve seen a massive change in a short time. Our client base has as well. In times of crisis, it soon becomes clear what we can do to turn projects around quickly and successfully. We’ve seen thousands of staff mobilise and begin working from home using remote access to the system; previously we’d been told this couldn’t be achieved and that staff wouldn’t be able to accept the culture change.
We’ve seen the importance of cloud-based solutions, collaboration and communication software, and how we can adapt and operate successfully using these things. Long meetings have been replaced by short sharp calls over Hangouts, Slack or Teams. I’ve engaged with more clients in the last few weeks over chat-based platforms than I’ve ever done before. What would have been a visit, or string of emails has been replaced by quick one-liners. We’ve seen electronic engagement surge, and the way we all think about work-life balance has started to change.
So, after this is all over, we’ll either all be fighting in a Thunderdome, or we’ll take what we’ve learnt and improve on it. We can’t look in the rear-view mirror to see where we are going next. Instead, it’s time to look at how we’ve addressed peoples’ needs, and how can we can build on things moving forward.
Staff will be getting used to the social distancing and working from their home offices, and some may well be more productive working in this environment. It has its perks to the individual: less ironing, less commuting and lower costs overall. Should we then be expecting them to come back to the office as if nothing has changed?
Now is the time for the transformation teams out there to take advantage of the possibilities and make some changes. Now is the time to encourage staff to support a reduction in desks. Ask them: does everyone actually want a desk in the office or can they hot desk? Will they have gotten used to not sitting next to each other, and will they want their own form of ‘social distance’? Do we need to consider how our systems allow for staff to access products online? Do we need face to face meetings or can we use online alternatives? And finally, how do we manage to get committees online?
Yes, legislation needs to change to facilitate that, but if the Prime Minister can run the country from a video call then surely, we can make a decision around a planning application or license renewal using the same technology.
We’ve already seen guidance from the Planning Officers Society advising sites on adapting their delegated powers, and we are working with clients to quickly configure their systems to address the change.
Allegedly each cloud has a silver lining, and I believe that this is ours. Let’s not stop this momentum. Let’s carry on at this pace and look at what else we can do. I don’t want to go back to normal – I want to evolve.
About Arcus Global
Arcus Global, formed in 2009 and based in Cambridge UK, is a market leading GovTech cloud company, delivering mission critical technology solutions that enable local authorities and other public sector organisations to transform their service delivery to citizens.
The Software as a Service division of Arcus has developed a platform based suite of Applications for Local Government. Addressing the challenge of legacy technology in Citizen Digital interaction, Planning, Building Control, Licensing, Environmental Health. Arcus has grown to over 30 customers including Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Eastleigh Borough Council and the London Borough of Southwark.
The Cloud Infrastructure Division of Arcus provides Consultancy, Managed Services and Cloud Storage to a large number of Public Sector bodies across Central Government, Local Government, the NHS and the Education sector.
Kate Warboys, Marketing Manager at Arcus Global